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Fascism and Mussolini

The first fascist regime was established  by Benito Mussolini in Italy in 1925. The word fascism comes from "fasci ," an Italian term for "bundle of sticks" that was a symbol for strength in unity. Fascists believe in one-party, totalitarian control of a nation and its economy. Fascist regimes value nationalism and militarization and frequently build nationalist fervor around a concept of shared racial or ethnic superiority. Mussolini's Fascist regime of the 1920s inspired Adolf Hitler's regime in Germany. Created by Sal Khan.

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  • male robot hal style avatar for user hushpuppy789
    If Hitler thought the Germans were superior and Mussolini thought the Italians were superior, that wouldn`t they declare war on each other due to each other thinking the opposite?
    (29 votes)
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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user ╰☆╮Spartacus╰☆╮
    Why doesn't he talk about the holocaust? I am really fascinated with this. I don't agree with anything they did, at all, but I just like to learn about the holocaust. I have read about survivors' stories. I have read over twenty books on the holocaust, and I was disappointed he isn't really covering it.
    (10 votes)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Rathony
    At , Sal says that 'this bundle of sticks was a symbol of unity'.
    The bundle of sticks is called a Fasces and it was a bundle of sticks and an axe.
    This was carried by an official or the assistant of an official, signifying that the bearer had the power to either execute or beat anyone they wanted.
    The escaped gladiator Spartacus, in some of his many battles with Roman officials, actually captured about three fasces, which was a great blow to the morale of the Romans - that was how important it was to them.
    The fascists took their name from the fasces because it was a symbol of power.
    (16 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Simon
    I have notice that when Sal is explaining what is fascism he is talking about communism and free market, but he doesn't go deep in the relationship between how fascism was born, the relationship with communism and the political situation in Italy. Maybe it is better to explain few things.
    First, the political situation was completely different. At the beginning of the last century in the parliament you could have found: on the right party the nobles, who were supporting the king, and few politicians which were supporting the church (their values and their interests, this was the extreme right back in those days); on the left there were the liberals and few socialist (so there wasn't really this distinction and conflict between communist ideas and free markets). It is also fare to say that most of the politicians in Italy were changing parties depending on the issues faced.
    Second, communism ideas begun to spread at the end of the WWI during the two years after the war to be precise. This spreading of ideas in an early nations without any welfare state and any laws that was able to protect a normal person who wasn't a lord or a priest, became rapidly popular in particular in the industries. The situation in the factories was really bad in Italy, since everybody who was working there was a kind of slave for the owner of the factory. Children, older people, women, there was nobody who was gaining benefits from their job. So between 1919-1921 all the workers in the Italian factories begun to strike against their bosses.
    The elite became really scared about these revolutionary ideas which were changing the status quo. And this is the moment when the Fascism begun to grow.
    In fact, at the beginning of the fascism, these are just few bunch of persons who were protecting the business of the landlord and the bosses in Italy. They were mainly agricultural groups which were going in to beat up the workers who were striking or the representatives of the early Communism Italian movements.
    Mussolini wasn't there at the beginning of the fascism, but he became the Idol of the movement later. Fascists groups were supported by the landlord and the owners of the factories to fight communism, and for this reason fascists were always been considered like the bosses dogs by the communist.
    Fascism, since part of a socialist movement, will lead anyway to the rise of a social welfare in the Italian legislation, the same social welfare which the communist movements were asking for the workers and the civilians trough their strikes.
    After all of this, I have the impression that when it comes to talk about communism there is always in these videos a certain kind of really negative point of view. Is that because you are generally skeptic or because you have some bias?
    (10 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Makiaveli
      You are incorrect on the spectrum. Both are forms of Collectivism, and your bias in favor of them shows when you imply them being evil are stereotypes.

      Sticking with the traditional left/right scale and placing Communism on the left, both forms are far left. They all place the collective or common good above the individual. It matters not if it's nationalistic or racist etc, the fact is that they all place the State in power over the individual for the so-called Greater Good. The opposite side would be anarchy with actual Capitalism near the far right end of the scale. Capitalism being a voluntarily funded constitutional republic whose only legitimate role is protecting rights (Life and property, not made up ones).
      (3 votes)
  • female robot amelia style avatar for user Juliette Pelletier-Gagné
    I don't fully understand his use of the word force (), is he referencing only to physical force (so the army and what not) or also the force of the mind over other people?
    (6 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Aiyanna :)
      Yes, physical force because Mussolini had political opposers with different views that didn't agree with his outlook, he would use his secret police to get rid all his opposers so nobody could speak against him. He forced his ideals onto other people, so eventually people believed Mussolini.
      (8 votes)
  • starky tree style avatar for user Chandu Bandaru
    Are fascism and Nazism defeated ideologically? Should we fear their resurgence?
    (4 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Georgia Watson
      No ideology can be thoroughly defeated, because we cannot control people's individual beliefs and preferences. There have been and may always be fascist and Nazi sentiments held by individuals since the proliferation of those sentiments in the early 20th century. What we can try to control is the spread of harmful beliefs and their enactment - like preventing another Holocaust from happening again. This is precisely why it is so important that we study history - so we can recognize the warning signs and act accordingly, so we don't have a repeat of the past.
      (11 votes)
  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user Jay Staker
    What's the difference between socialism and communism? This question has always plagued me! Ahh!
    (3 votes)
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    • leafers sapling style avatar for user Alannah Ford
      Socialism is actually more about wealth redistribution across society through socially equitable programs lead by the government. (i.e. health care, maternity leave etc.) Communism is about abolishing class, and advocates the elimination of private property. Additionally, socialism has more practical applications and has been seen in governments around the world such as England's National Health Services. Communism on the other hand still remains an ideology and has not been practiced in the pure Marxist form.
      (8 votes)
  • hopper jumping style avatar for user SapFire13
    I know that I may be missing something, but what do the terms "left wing" and "right wing" mean? From the context, I get that they represent different extremes in the group action, but what exactly? I'm not talking about the Fascists in general, Sal uses this term pretty much throughout the course since Hitler's rise.
    (5 votes)
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  • mr pink red style avatar for user lily zhu
    What does Capitalism and Communism actually mean ?
    (2 votes)
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    • spunky sam green style avatar for user History Helper
      Well, capitalism derives from the word "capital," which means any economic potential (e.g. services, products, and etc.) that could yield profit. Thus, it literally means an economic system based on the utility of capital. On the other hand, communism derives from the word "community," emphasizing the importance of community as the first priority. To help the community, communism suggests equal pay, no private ownership, and state-regulated economy.
      (6 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user kshepp06
    what did Mussolini do?
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

When people use the terms "fascism" or "fascist" today, they're usually using it in a derogatory way to refer to a group, a regime, or even an individual that is overly aggressive, and controlling, and totalitarian. But its roots, actually, lie with Benito Mussolini, who was in power in Italy during the 1920s, and 1930s, and through World War II. And they proudly call themselves the Fascists and their ideology as fascism. And the root of fascist and fascism come from the Italian word "fascio," which literally refers to a bundle. It comes out of this idea that a bundle of things will be stronger together than individually. And this is actually the symbol for fascism. And this symbol of this bundle, this sheath of sticks, this actually predates Mussolini by thousands of years. It goes back to Roman times. And even, based on some of the things I've read, even predates Roman times as a symbol of unity, a symbol of official strength. And even before Mussolini came around, the term was used by many, many, many groups that viewed themselves as a league of revolutionaries. A group of people somehow fighting for change. And Mussolini was no different. When in the end of 1914 and then in early 1915, he establishes the Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria. And I'm, once again, so sorry for my butchering of an Italian word. But this literally translates to group action revolutionary, or you could say the revolutionary action group, founded by Mussolini in 1915. And it was really a splinter of the Socialist Party. Well, there's an irony there because Mussolini and fascism, in particular, is associated with strongly anti-socialist ideology. But as Europe was entering into World War I in 1914, some of the mainstream of the Italian Socialist Party was against Italy entering the war. They wanted Italy to maintain their neutrality. But you had splinter groups, more nationalist groups, that said, hey, look, this is Italy's chance to claim its right. It should join the war on the side of the Entente. And Mussolini was one of these individuals. And because of his strong pro-war stance, he was actually kicked out of his-- he was head of a socialist paper in 1914. And then he eventually, by 1915, establishes the Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria. And by the end of World War I, as we get into 1919, it regroups under the name Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. So this literally translates as, you could view Fasci as a group, or league, or revolutionary league of Italians of Combatants. Or the Combatant Italian Revolutionary Group-- I guess is one way to think about it-- or the Group of Italian Combatants, is another way to think about it. And their ideology-- and their ideology wasn't well established right when they set up. It was just really around this idea of being super pro-nationalist-- but it began to develop over the course of the '20s and the 1930s. The core idea, and I've already said it multiple times, is an extreme nationalism. And when we talk about extreme nationalism, or nationalism in general, it's talking about the interests of one nation, of one group, above all others. About putting the state above all other things. Oftentimes, fascism is viewed as a right-wing group. But in its purest form, it's neither left- or right-wing. At the left end of the spectrum, you could imagine communist or socialism. I'll write communism, which you could view as an extreme form of socialism. Communism. And at the extreme right, you could imagine just complete free-market. Complete, unfettered, free-market. Ultra small government. And fascists and extreme nationalists, they didn't view themselves as either end of the spectrum. They kind of viewed themselves as a separate way where everything was subordinate. The economy itself was subordinate to the state. Now with that said, they tended to align themselves more with folks on the right. So even though they weren't completely free-market capitalists, they were staunchly anti-communist and anti-socialist, which caused them to form alliances a little bit more with the right. But from their point of view, it wasn't one of these extreme right-wing ideologies that the government should be subordinate to the economy, that the government should be as small as possible. It was much more that the economy was there to serve national interests. Some of the other ideologies that the fascists began to hold is this idea that force was a legitimate part of politics. So force in politics. And you would see this when Benito Mussolini's fascists, through the use of the Black Shirts, which was their paramilitary group, which allowed them to eventually take political control and enforce political control. And we later see it with other groups like the Nazis. Who are also tended to be associated with fascism. And their storm troopers and their storm battalions, their paramilitary forces, that are used to, essentially, take political control. The other aspect of them-- and, as you could imagine, when we're talking about either Mussolini or the Nazis-- is that they weren't really fans of democracy. Not only did they think that everything should be subordinate to the state, but that the state should have absolute control. So it's not about democracy. It's about having a strong leader at the top. A strong one party at the top. And in the case of Mussolini it was the fascists. In the case of Hitler it ends up being the Nazis. So totalitarian. Completely totalitarian. And then, they also-- and these all gel together-- this idea of aggressive foreign policy. And this aggressive foreign policy is really rooted in this belief of cultural superiority. And, if you take the case of the Nazis, this belief in extreme racial superiority, cultural superiority. And I'm making a slight distinction there because in Mussolini's eyes, he was actually quite disparaging. Even though Hitler looked to Mussolini as something of a role model when Mussolini took power in 1922, it inspired Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch. Mussolini did not think much of Hitler through much of the 1920s and even early 1930s. He thought Hitler's ideas of racial purity were really an illusion. That there was no racially pure race. He didn't really appreciate Hitler calling the Italians a mongrel race. But Mussolini himself did think that the Italians were culturally superior. And that would be their justification for an aggressive foreign policy. For them taking over other territory in Europe and in Africa. And as we'll see, because they shared so much in common ideologically, the Nazis were, you could kind of view as a more extreme form. And the fascists themselves were quite extreme. But the Nazis were a more extreme form of the same ideology. They will, even though in the '20s and early '30s Mussolini is more eager to align himself with some of the other powers in Europe, in particular Great Britain and France. As we go into the second half of 1930s, Mussolini and Hitler find themselves to be kindred spirits. They both want to be aggressive in their foreign policy. They both want to secure other territory. They both have this idea that they need space for their superior populations, to their culturally superior, and in the case of the Nazis, racially superior populations to grow and thrive. And so as we enter into the second half of the 1930s and World War II, you have Mussolini and the fascists become close allies of Hitler and the Nazis.